The Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement is advancing a bold vision to enhance a civic culture at Washington University. The Civic Engagement Fund is a critical tool that supports students, faculty, and staff who seek to strengthen the social fabric of our communities.
In the 2015-2016 academic year, the Civic Engagement Fund awarded more than $75,000 to faculty, students, and staff who developed coursework and initiatives that catalyze civic engagement and community partnerships in St. Louis and beyond. For this year’s February and April funding cycles, the Gephardt Institute awarded over $12,000 to the following initiatives:
St. Louis Projects:
Science in St. Louis Seminar Series
Kaitlyn Faries, NSF and Olin Fellow, College of Arts and Sciences
The Science in St. Louis Seminar Series (SciSTL) is a free seminar series that aims to create an engaged public that is informed and cares about science by making STEM more accessible to St. Louis communities of all background and ages. This seminar series, which will be taking place between June 2017 and May 2018, will directly inform the public about scientific research occurring in the community. Ultimately, the goal is to demonstrate that a long-term partnership between SciSTL and the Gephardt Institute would be mutually-beneficial, as well as being beneficial to St. Louis area communities.
Delivering Lifestyle-integrated Functional Exercise (LiFE) Program
Yi-Ling Hu, PhD Student, College of Arts and Sciences
Lifestyle integrated Functional Exercise Program (LiFE), is an in-home fall prevention program for community-dwelling older adults. The mission of this project is to culturally adapt and explore efficacy of this program, while focusing on developing a model for increasing adoption and maintaining LiFE in the community based on the Reach, Efficacy, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework. The program hopes to prove that LiFE is an effective program that can eventually receive federal funding to be implemented across the country.
Habitat for Humanity: Summerdale, Alabama
Lindsey Corydon ’20, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences
The Washington University chapter of Habitat for Humanity traveled to Summerdale, Alabama during spring break. Students who participated in the trip were able to work alongside residents and Habitat homeowners, all of whom have diverse backgrounds. Through interactions with these members of the local community, the students learned about the housing situation in Summerdale and the life stories of many of its residents. The trip aimed to get WashU students involved with Habitat for Humanity by showing them that substandard housing is a present and pressing issue.
ALAS: Proyecto Azteca: San Juan, Texas
Nydia Monroy ’20, College of Arts and Sciences
The Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) traveled to Hidalgo, Texas over spring break in an effort to help aid the volunteer organization Proyecto Azteca with building homes for immigrants. Volunteers gained valuable experience working as a team and individually through their service. This is ALAS’s second annual service trip, and members hope to continue to have a similar trips available each year to help foster ALAS’s relationship with efforts and organizations within and beyond the St. Louis region.
Global Brigades: Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Dalton Hoelscher ’18, College of Arts and Sciences
Global Brigades traveled to an underdeveloped community in Honduras over spring break to provide medical and public health assistance. During the first half of the brigade, group members helped set up a temporary community clinic. From assisting the dentists and shadowing the primary care and OB/GYN physicians to documenting the patient visits, the students helped integrate individuals into the Honduran medical record system. During the second half of the trip, group members also built sanitation systems for several households.
Global Brigades Honduras Service Trip: Medical / Dental Brigade
Cynthia Zhang ’18, College of Arts and Sciences
Students on the Medical/Dental Brigade spent three days providing health care in a rural Honduran community. Volunteers took patient vitals, obtained patient history and symptoms, and assisted licensed physicians and dentists. Volunteers also became familiar with the prevalent health issues in Honduras and learned about sustainable health development. They had the opportunity to spend a day helping builders install a more efficient and eco-friendly stove in a rural family’s home, which will help the family use less fuel and minimize exposure to smoke that leads to respiratory issues. The brigade provides each volunteer with the opportunity to make a tangible impact on a specific community while gaining real-life experience in international medicine, dentistry, and public health.
Small Change Grants:
Emma Riley ’17, Sam Fox School for Design and Visual Arts
There is a type of learning that often goes unrecognized in WashU’s academic environment – the informal process of learning from people with different backgrounds and experiences, which forces people to confront assumptions and humanize people they once considered “other”. Through the community dinner, Emma facilitated connections among people of different backgrounds in the hope that after connecting through conversation and food, they will confront some of their assumptions and have a more complex understanding of one another. She also encouraged participants to exchange contact information and meet again after the dinner to continue the conversation.
Bear Cubs Running Team Spring 2017 Season
Paige Cloonan ’18, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Bear Cubs Running Team reaches out to the St. Louis community by providing children on the autism spectrum and their family with the opportunity to participate in a free running program tailored to individual needs. During past seasons, parents have reported an increase in attention and behavioral improvements when their children participated in the Bear Cubs program. Bear Cubs Running Team works to accommodate every athlete by including individual coaches, practice schedules, and allowing siblings to participate to ensure all athletes are in a position to succeed. One of the main highlights is the final race, which all athletes and coaches can register for. This year, participants registered for the Take Steps for Kids race, and it was a celebration of all the accomplishments the athletes had made throughout the season.
Catalyst for Change
Gabriela Szteinberg, PhD, Project Coordinator for the General Chemistry Supplemental Program
The Catalysts for Change program aims to expose female high school students to different STEM fields and career paths. This project addresses the common stereotype that women are not as suited for a scientific career as men are. The Catalysts for Change program seeks to educate female high school students on stereotype threat and encourage them to take high school courses in physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics. The project addresses these issues through a three-tiered mentoring program between graduate, undergraduate, and high school female students. Through this partnership, the high school girls will receive the opportunity to learn from successful older women in STEM fields and gain knowledge about how to succeed. By including female chemistry majors and chemistry PLTL leaders, it provides increased campus-wide awareness about the issues women face in STEM fields and allows more undergraduate students to become involved in the greater St. Louis community.
East St. Louis: An All-American City
Risha Shah ’17, College of Arts and Sciences
“East St. Louis: An All-American City” is a multimedia showcase that gives WashU students the opportunity to learn more about East St. Louis through informal conversations with community members; large posters featuring the history, demographics, and current statistics and events in East St. Louis; videos with interview clips; and panels featuring relevant and poignant personal accounts from community members. The showcase hopes to make the narratives of individuals who work and live in East St. Louis visible to all. The project, developed by the Partners in East St. Louis program and Voices of East St. Louis, endeavors to challenge the stigma associated with East St. Louis by showcasing the authentic stories and struggles of local community members.
Timmy Global Health: Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic
Lulu Huang ’18, College of Arts and Sciences
The WashU chapter of Timmy Global Health will be going on a week-long medical brigade to help expand basic healthcare needs to areas of the world facing disparities. This summer, the group will be going to five rural communities in Monte Cristi to set up medical clinics in a larger effort to expand healthcare. Trip participants will have an opportunity to develop their community leadership and civic agency through community-based teaching with host community members. Overall, the trip will allow students and the host community to facilitate dialog and learn from each other’s experience to develop critical thinking and engagement with community and global health issues.
Small Change Grants:
Dance Marathon Leadership Conference
Josephine Cusworth ’18, College of Arts and Sciences
Over the past 15 years, Children’s Miracle Network has hosted an annual Dance Marathon Leadership Conference for President and Executive Directors of Dance Marathon organizations from universities all over the country. Dance Marathon Leadership Conference, or DMLC, is a weekend-long conference, allowing students, advisors, and hospitals the opportunity to network, learn best practices, and plan for the coming year of fundraising and events. DMLC hopes to prepare teams and programs for a successful year through business partner presentations, relationship building with corporate partners, discussion of fundraising goals, and inspirational keynote speeches. WashU’s 2017 Dance Marathon event will take place November 4, 2017.
For Us By Us – An Academic and Artistic Immersion, Part II
Najjuwah Walden, George Brown School of Social Work
The “For Us By Us” field trip project is part of Ladies of Distinction, a personalized program developed and implemented at Mason/Clark Middle School in an effort to provide social and academic support to eighth grade students who experience socioeconomic barriers that prevent them from participating in extracurricular activities. The field trip provides girls with exposure to history, music, and art forms developed by passionate individuals and organizations that are dedicated to investing in themselves and their communities. The trip also connects participants to African American women who have achieved their goals.
Mound 28 – U City Public Art Series
Erin Darnauer ’18, Sam Fox School for Design and Visual Arts
Mound 28 is an earthwork sculpture project that will be displayed in Heman Park from April 22 to May 10. The purpose of the sculpture is to bring about a topic of conversation within an otherwise empty site in a public park. The sculpture intends to help connect University City’s physical and social landscapes, providing a point of conversation within the community.
To learn more about the Civic Engagement Fund and to apply, click here.